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Jennet Conant Education. (2008) Jennet Conant ('The Irregulars').

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America 19, England 9, Washington 9, Us 6, Stevenson 5, Europe 4, Henry Wallace 4, Reich 3, Cia 3, Nazis 3, William Stevenson 3, Fleming 3, Vietnam 3, Pearson 2, Roosevelt 2, Eleanor Roosevelt 2, Roald Dahl 2, North America 2, Wallace 2, Stevens 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Jennet Conant  Education.  (2008)  
   Jennet Conant ('The Irregulars').  

    March 24, 2013
    6:00 - 6:45pm EDT  

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and it took me eight months to do the project. i interviewed all of them. they talked about their experiences. they talk about why they joined. how they were recruited. they talk about life now as wounded veterans. some of them talk about their problems with the v.a., their problems adjusting. when i first started the project, i thought i was photographing physical wounds, amputees, brain damage, organ damage. but now, when i look at my pictures, i see the psychological damage. i don't even see the burn victims or the amputees so much anymore. when i look at my own pictures, i remember how it felt talking to the soldiers, and i see the psychological damage, which continues, i think, for their lifetime in one way or another, and vietnam veterans or veterans from any war, i think, will tell you that that experience will never go away, good or bad, it will never go away and it becomes part of who
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they are. so i just hope that we as american citizens realize these guys have come home. we now have 15,000 wounded in action. that doesn't even count the numbers of wounded in what i'm calling combat support. so this soldier here is a quadriplegic. he became that way -- he was driving a tank in tikrit, saddam's hometown, and his commander told him to destroy a concrete wall that had saddam's face on it. the wall -- he rammed the wall. the concrete came in and severed his spinal cord. he will never walk. he can't feel anything from his chest down. but he's not counted. he's not in that department of defense number on wounded soldiers because the wall is not considered hostile enemy. and so there are thousands and thousands of these other soldiers, some of them very, very severely wounded, that
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were not so much -- that we're not so much hearing about, and i think that -- you know, they were in iraq just like everyone else, or they were in afghanistan, and they deserve our support ju need to believe that. so not the typical place for a psychologist. nothing about my people and involved typical places raise psychologists so what did i do in the midst of this? when i returned i ran away as many do after trauma. i left the navy, but clinical work altogether. i was hoping to find some peace. during that time rule number 2 was written by accident, it was written as therapy. a vietnam marine, retired colonel who has written several
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books about the marines in vietnam contacted me and said you need to write a book where every line in that poem is captured and i was very respectful since he is a colonel. i settled respect, absolutely not. i will not write another word about this experience. and you know what? wants a month he wrote me an e-mail and said what about that book? nine months after getting home and living through this they strange suffering that as a shrink i can the fine quite easily but as a person i didn't even realize i was going through. funny how that works. i finally wrote to him and said okay, what do i do? it is published not because of him. is published because of beth dunham who told me i should get it published. this whole thing is for fault. the most important part of all this is i learned exposure
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therapy works. with each story that i wrote it became progressively easier to write the words on a page and a route that time i decided it was time to go back to work with our wounded marines and i have been there ever since. it is where i belong really and i guess it is a unique opportunity to try to be one of the voices out there trying to convince people that it is okay to seek help for wounds no one can see. someone told me he feels like the country after this is in the midst of a slow-motion mass casualty. i have to say those words struck a chord with me. after being awakened many nights by pounding marines on the door waking us up, mass casualties, the words are a little different for me but it fits. in my humble opinion that is because it is based on one thing. i am hearing it over and over
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again from my patients, from those in audiences who ask questions in front of everybody come up later and speak to me, it is the sense that seems to be consistent across men and women, special forces, aviation, medical. we seem to have one thing in common and it is important for all of you as veterans, family members, as obvious members of the concerned community, it is important for you to know that some of our current and past service members feel alone. they feel there is no way anyone could ever understand how hard it is to admit that there is something wrong that no one can see. so the way ahead, to being healed and hole again although changed because we are all
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changed, we will all be moving through this together as a community. it is a validation. we provide validation for others in ways we don't even realize. as a health care provider to deploy long time ago and now appears from our current warriors and their families, please trust me on this. you matter to our country's veterans, to those members of your community, the family members and friends and co-workers in ways that you will never know. if you take an extra moment to validate whenever it is that person might be feeling, it is an extra 30 seconds to remind that person it is ok if you are not okay. to know for certain as you go forward that that one incident of locking eyes, a little extra time holding on to a handshake
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or a hug, you can validate that feeling of being alone and start a person on a path to healing. we do not need to the mental health providers to do that for one another. sometimes in those moments of comfort that might show up in recounts the military life of children's author who was enlisted by the british government in 1942 to plant probe for propaganda in america in the attempt to discredit isolationists and encourage the united states to enter world
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war ii. it's about a half an hour. [applause] >> thank you for coming. this is a sort of home town book for you in washington. i should begin i suppose by saying that writing about spies is a tricky business. the history of any great espionage operation is by definition a secret undertaking. so it's full of shadow characters and murky dealings but making the matters worse in this story is the fact that all of the preexisting accounts were full of hopelessly muddled stories, modeled by exaggeration and misdirection and fly is both official and unofficial and that made tracking the truth is very slippery business. the history of the british
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spies, working america that is to save the history of the allies schley and on our allies, friends spying on friends is a story that a lot of people wanted to forget. both countries wanted to suppress so it is particularly tangled mess. working on this book i was reminded from one of my favorite westerns the man who shot liberty the jimmy stewart man asks the newspaper if the truth of what happened will ever really come out and a newspaper editor says no, sir this is the west when the legend becomes fact print the legend. my experience with intelligence reports is pretty much the same to made a certain false glamour adheres to a lot of the wartime exploits and a certain sanctify diversion if you want emerges, and that sort of renames the case of any inconvenient fact or swept under the carpet.
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in the case of the deer regulars is the court nation that's a very clumsy name edgar hoover and the head of the fbi gave to the british by aberration in america. they preferred a code name that had its root in sherlock holmes gifted amateurs that heated sherlock holmes and his inquiry and the british heard that and referred to themselves as the irregulars. the truth of what they were up to in washington during world war ii is also very tricky to write about because you are writing about spies so you are writing about people who are gifted lawyers would be a polite way to put it to say that they were trained in the arts of deception and of vacation monday and understatement. as a result, when it came to the
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post war memoirs and interviews they varied widely and meandered often from the truth and it was difficult to almost take anything they said at face value. so unlike many of the books i couldn't take the transcript such interviews and rely on them as wholley factual. with that said, the blame for much of the of gestation and the story lies with the head of the baker street irregulars, the british security court nation. he was a particularly colorful character named william stevenson a canadian millionaire by winston churchill and sent to america in 1940. his name william stevenson comegys famous to many of you for his code name intruded. there were a series of best sellers written after the war the man was one of them.
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he commissioned many of his own officials reports so that the history of the irregulars activities in america an official, officials, it's very difficult to tell what's what and is cleaned up in 1945 and 1946, let alone leader in the 50's and 60's and 70's as america and england wrestled over that period if history. all that said we don't think that the actual size concentrate on a particularly colorful trio, ian fleming who is known to you as the author of the james bond books, and david ogilvy who went on to become the founder of the advertising giant.
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about your own inspiring carriers it was more a case of the fact that reality fell sadly short fiction. i think that it's no coincidence all of those men made their post courier famous fabulous as a storyteller of one sort or another. and i think because of james bond's outside fame, their own exploits during the war are sort of pale by comparison. they were not like fleming's creations. they didn't drop behind the enemy lines and said the nazi officers wrote in the dark. they were desk jockeys. they were the traditional kind of intelligence officers rather than front line operatives. they were behind the scenes intelligence gatherers charged with the more pedestrian but extremely important in this case and very effective task of finding out intelligence on
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american politicians and officials and forwarding it back to their superiors in england. all of this was done throughout the war from 1940 to 1945, and it had a great influence not only on the course of america's involvement in the war but also in determining a post war policy in the formation of the cia, or it was the oss that became the cia. it's important to remember what happened in this case. many people said why didn't we have our allies' spying on us, why did the british need to spy on us? most forget that in 1940 when churchill's and stevenson over here to start building up a secret network the war was extremely unpopular in america putative was still called the european conflict in the american newspapers. well over 98% of the country was adamantly opposed to becoming
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involved in the war. something was in the midst of being debated in the congress and it didn't look like it was going to pass. roosevelt who was friendly with churchill and wanted to helped churchill and send a need trinkle and couldn't be seen as lifting a hand to help england without risking his chances of a reelection. the british desperately needed americas help triet hitler by now marched across europe. he was only two or three months away by most people's estimations of invading england. they literally -- their only hope is that america would choose to intervene, and churchill couldn't let that fall to chance. he had to do everything that he could to push america into the war. so he did something. he took a great risk and decided to send in a group of operatives to private the reluctant ally into action. of the irregulars, probably the most irregular of them all dahl
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maza someone that set out to be a spy. in fact he landed in washington as a young and inexperienced pilots. he managed to get lost, run out of fuel and crashed his plane. it's a miracle actually he survived. he was badly burned, and he was in delude and out of the war at age 25. he wanted to do something and his friends were still fighting. he found himself offered a post in washington as a sort of goodwill ambassador to get he was good looking, 6-foot six, and some, very well spoken and articulate and breathtakingly smashing in his uniform and gold braid and he was a poster boy for the war hero he was supposed to come in and shake hands, kissed their wives and raise money for the war or beckham. he was a waiver if you will. well, he found this humiliating duty. he said he found himself trapped in the cocktail mall of america. he was appalled by the wealth
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and how safe and well fed everybody looked compared tobacco to it he wanted no part of it and he was so rude and insulting and basically badly behaved that he got fired and was about to be sent home when william stevenson decided to recruit him as a spy. stevenson had become aware of his antics but he decided to take a chance on dahl. someone remarked one reason he decided to hire dahl as he felt nobody that badly behaved would be suspected of being a spy. stevenson also couldn't afford to be choosy. remember by 1940 europe had been at war for several years and the train sort of seasoned the secret service types. they were already working in europe on braking the na dmarko indy 500 troup maneuver. they were already in europe doing important work and this was a kind of risky black book operation.
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it was a counter espionage operation, propaganda operation and he was expected to find his people where he could. because he himself was not a trained spy comedy was a self-made millionaire and someone had worked with churchill and churchill was out of power as an industrialist and someone with holdings and steel and airplanes he had a report on the third reich's business activities and given a lot of economic intelligence to churchill's group and had to impress them with his wherewithal and cleverness and so he in turn look for people like himself, he looked for academics, and looked for industrialists that were well-connected, he hired a journalists and also actors and artists. as a result, you got people like fleming, a former journalist who had begun working in the naval intelligence and ogilvy that worked in advertising and was working for the gallup poll organization in america pity get he was a british. the british decided to infiltrate the gallup poll organization which then like
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today did each election results and in the term was first us by and then hired him out right to manipulate public opinion in america. they also hired a playwright and entertainer because she traveled from country to country and met many heads of states and acted as a courier. one of the stars of gone with the wind worked for the irregulars and he was shot down by germans when he was carrying a document for the irregulars. the germans knew that he was a spy and they thought that his death would be bad for british morale. so the irregulars were a rather romantic plunge and the thought of themselves that way took their cover where they could find it. they had jobs in the embassy and the cover is that they were the air attache. she was supposed to be raising morale in america one of the
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jobs lost right propaganda which few people realize all of his early stories, there are stories of his escapades as a pilot there were street out front and the -- propaganda. they passed the british information services and were signed off by british officials and then send out to the saturday evening post, ladies home journal and magazines like that as propaganda. their purpose was to rouse americans sympathies and enflame people against the nazis and make americans want to fight on in england's behalf. remember dahl came in 40 to come just six months after pearl harbor. america was fighting a war on the two friends and one of the things that had the british worried is that the american anger towards the japanese would mean that more ships and manpower and money would be spent on the pacific war than a year p.m. war. the bullets had taken a toll in england the cities were being bombed and they desperately need
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america's health and they were fighting for every airplane, for every ship and submarine and so they did everything they could to turn american sympathies towards the british and keep america focused on britain. dahl's daily jobs were to seduce and manipulate the press and politicians and he was very effective. he was incredibly charming and when you think he was 26 within a few months playing poker with harry truman. he was dining with harry morgan fall and became best friends with the vice president henry wallace and he was sleeping with clare boothe luce triet clare boothe luce was married to henry who was say fervent antinew dealer an outspoken critic of roosevelt, and he was very outspoken in his criticism of the british.
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time and life kept running tirades against the british. their activities in india. churchill hated him. he was the top of his enemies list and when clare boothe luce made a pass at the embassy dinner, dahl's superior said go for it and he was expected to report back on his pillow talk and he did. there's a joke that he ungraciously later complained to friends about she was 13 years older than him and the line close your eyes and think of england. but anyway. dahl's other main activity was to defend american journalists and there he made great progress as well. he became friends with walter, drew pearson. they were among the most powerful and influential gossip columnists of the day and he would meet with them regularly in the trade items with them. this was an unscrupulous line of work but again very effective. there were a lot of prominent americans like charles lindbergh
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and others supportive of germany and antiintervention. he might give them items the woods near the individuals and the same would go for senators, congressmen that were outspoken against roosevelt's war policies. if they would investigate whether or not the headmistresses. they would provide the gossip columnists with black male items. these are desperate measures but desperate times and the british were going to take these people out one by one. there were also many u.s. corporations that were doing business with the third reich. remember if he were a major american corporation and an oil company or a chemical company you are fully expected the third reich would march into england in three months and that would be the major comptroller of european all legal and economy. they would expose the company is
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about how the standard oe executives for supporting the nazis piece of meat headlines and lead to congressional investigations. the columnists would benefit by getting a lot of juicy items. in his letters he details how he met with landrieu pearson and he exchanged these items and bragged that he became so close to drew pearson in particular that he became regarded as one of the family. in his role as a propagandist, dahl started to make a name for himself in washington and his short stories started earning him quite a bit of a claim as a young writer and one of them and particular, sort of particularly affecting the young fable that he wrote for children and was published in the ladies' home journal was about a little
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gremlins that tinkered with the ref pilot planes to arouse sympathy for the british ref pilots. a particularly appealed to eleanor roosevelt who read the story to her grandchildren and in short order invited to the white house for dinner eleanor roosevelt was charmed by dahl and started getting asked backs to the collected in arana of the databases and giving to hyde park for the weekend with the roosevelt family. probably unknown to roosevelt was the fact that he was filing detailed intelligence reports back to england on everything that he heard and saw. the british were assessed with rose about's health. roosevelt ran for an unprecedented third term in 1944 he had run for an equally unprecedented fourth term but his health was failing and why the american newspapers didn't report much on his appearance and the fact that he was growing weaker the british order obsessed with the fact that he
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might not live through his fourth term. they were terrified that henry wallace would become president. henry wallace was extremely left-wing today the british considered him a communist and he was a bushehr and flake antiempire. again he was at the top of the british empire's. the british didn't want him on the ticket. he had been vice president through the third term and the needed him off the ticket. they couldn't risk henry wallace becoming president if anything should happen to fdr to be of the british maneuvered endlessly behind-the-scenes to blacken his name and they released every bit of dirt about him that they possibly could. it ran in the papers and was the talk of washington kidding he had all kinds of strange religious beliefs. he had doubled in a kind of mystical cults and they dug this up and saw that they got a lot of press. henry wallace was booted from the democratic ticket in a very controversial republican convention in chicago in 1944
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and the british in their papers and files congratulated themselves for having tinkered with the american political process in their favor. this is a very effective counter espionage propaganda operation arguably in the history of espionage by the end of 1945 there were over 2,000 british agents working in north america iain fleming who example came over here to smooth the way between american intelligence and british intelligence wrote many influential memos that for you is essentially to help america establish a foreign intelligence operation in the image of the irregulars. he suggested the mendacious higher. william donovan, and it became
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the oss but leader martin to the cia. all of this amounted to a shadow force that waged more with in this country breaking in some sense every law of the land to fight for a land by the means of sabotaging, propaganda and political subversion. had congress or the american public know and at the time that roosevelt had invited them and have instructed hoover to look the of their way, she certainly would have opened himself up to impeachment proceedings. but as we know, history proved him right. we looked back on this as a just war that we should have entered. and we look back on roosevelt and on the british irregulars despite their underhanded means as on the side of the angels. so it is a case of doing wrong for the right reasons.
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but it's a very fraught piece of history as a result. one of my favorite lines about this period of history was uttered by earnest who was a pivotal figure. he ghost wrote many of the columns and he was an operative who basically was the dough between the british intelligence and roosevelt's brain trust. he said it was well known that the british were there and to strike america into the war and he said and i quote of course they were trying to push us into the war they were indeed a pushover it reminded me of the line he fell upon her and what have raped her before her ready acquiescence. one a thing about this book i find that many people say to me do you write these books to the current history? and of course you do. history has an awful habit of
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repeating itself and i think you cannot look at this period of espionage and not look at our own weakness in the intelligence we had in entering the war that we find ourselves and now also are needed i suppose for greater vigilance and the necessity of pan close attention and our own media to the propaganda and the lobbyist to what comes by year to get us into the war and keep us there. thank you for coming. are there any questions? [applause] >> was he and anti-semitic and racist in your research did you find that the -- [inaudible]
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>> that took into account his full life and he argued in his years she died in his late 70's and this would have been sort of in his early seventies he became an old man and he fought with his publishers and journalists and other writers and he picked a fight with solomon rushdie but then a lot of them picked a fight with him. but he did utter some anti-semitic comments. he had a reputation like to say overall it's not a very nice older man. the only thing i would say in his defense is he saw an awful lot of death as a very young man when spinal surgeries were not a pretty. cells medicated from the 40's to the end of his life with booze and that can lead to a mean drunk and can make for some regrettable statements. but yes he did say some
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unfortunate things. >> can you enlarge and that a bit how did he look or actively new and perhaps took part in the irregulars and mcconaughy in short order certainly by the end of 41, there were so many british spies in washington but department officials knew and one of them the assistant
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secretary of state was completely up in arms about it and a lot of senior military aides were up in arms about it and their and our constant memos all the way through the war years. it is in violation of the monroe doctrine if this comes out heads are going to roll and it's going to look her in this for this administration and edolphus that look the other way you've got to do something and bs go on and on. the trouble is stevenson was such a slight political operator that between the support roosevelt had for him that churchill had for him, the need the british had and the americans have and the intelligence because we didn't have our own foreign intelligence yet. they've made inroads and an attempt to the power that has
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various bills they would put them up. roosevelt would undercut them and thus pious state. they are not very trainable. >> that is an understatement, that is very well put. they were not very trainable. they were clever and charming and high year in part because the political cover he was already at the gallop. she was already at the embassy said they were all pretty well fixed and connected socially. he was sort of in place, so a lot of them they hired because
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of his social connections and background. he had very little training. as a result, stevens and actually built himself something that he called camp x in canada. a was a quick flight from new york right outside of toronto and was a sort of finishing school from spies and ogilvy of fleming and a lot of them would go for about six weeks in the sticks to the it was in the middle of nowhere and sort of learn about the codes and forgery and safe cracking. i mean very little they ever used but they got a crash course on spies to the issues kilmerson his recollections about learning to kill a man with a newspaper or one handed blow but he weighed about 110 and was never going to be able to do. but they did have this little sabotage school in the canadian wilderness.
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during the manhattan project mostly he was here in washington and had some intersection. that is probably what led me to this. my grandfather. he took off five years to do this with conjunction with of the head of mit and they had oversight over all of the wartime weapons laboratories. my grandfather's particular area was the atom bomb. they were completely paranoid and vigilant about and one reason allows all muslims out in the sticks in new mexico desert. so my grandfather was obsessed with spies throughout the war that they were very worried that the british should find out about the bomb, and of course they should have been because
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while the fbi was falling oppenheimer everywhere, the germans have study access economy. we are learning more about how damage the espionage was. so growing up in that environment it was a constant topic of conversation and then of course in the 60's as my grandfather became interested in his own fbi file because he too was followed and used the freedom of information act to get a hold of his file and the was of great interest because he was completely purged and documents were missing. i became fascinated in the whole period and that did lead me to become interested in the topic. >> in your talk about sabotage fought are you talking like they
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have factories or something? >> de savage tauscher area what have related to the shipping. one of the early mandates was to come and protect the british cargos and shipping so they did petrel the ports and some of the early complaints about the irregulars is that stevenson's bouygues or beating up nazis on the of dock with no due process. that would have been the area of sabotage. the germans. the original mandate was to come in and identify the nazi sympathizers and german organizations in this country. they vastly overstaffed that and did all kinds of spying on our politicians and meddling in our own political process before they were done. that's what happens when you invite your allies.
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>> i found a copy of the official history of the british intelligence in north america before i read it, and i'm looking forward to it, how reliable is a? >> that's the 64 million-dollar question, isn't it? it was commissioned by william stevenson, and in the latter months of the war when you commission you're own official history, you are covering your ass. it was written by his closest and his favorite lieutenant's including the academic leader columbia scholar who is of interest mostly because he was married to the mystery writer because she was writing antinovels that made the most of the nazi atrocities which is also propaganda in the form of fiction but roald dahl wrote
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several chapters of that history. i believe they are quite recognizable for the style. it's fairly academic and draw a and suddenly you will come across a chapter that begins. this would be roald dahl riding about trying to lighten up an official report. i used it in regard heavily would be an overstatement and then there are portions that are more reliable than others. i have all of his diaries and letters and i had henry wallace and charles marsh and other publishers i know what he was doing everyday. i knew where he was and who she was lunching with and i could compare it, sort of track it with his entry in the history and substantiate many of his
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claims. so i was willing to use him there. other claims made by stevens and i don't mention in the book. many of them were outrageous and i don't think they can be substantiated certainly not with any records that we have now. they claim to do all kind of accomplishments that are more controversial. i try to stay with what i could prove and triangulate with other documents but it's a fascinating record. the british have enormous amounts of records that they are not obligated to release them. every five years they come before the parliament and petition for them to release and the parliament says well, no and they lock them up again and that i am not sure that we will ever see them. any other questions? thank you for coming. [applause] >> if anyone would like to have their book signed --
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dever it is the author of spin masters of the media ignored the news and helped re-elect barack obama triet was the news that was ignored? >> you have a great number of things. stories about the economy and about the foreign policy cash, etc.. what prompted me to write spin masters though was the benghazi attack. it became clear that the political news media rather than focusing on a story of foreign policy failures and the president had promised fy
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failing to produce eight said it significantly destroyed al qaeda and here we see the terrorists acting out. romney didn't feel that situation that well with his press conference he called it at the wrong time about the guy that runs the entire foreign policy apparatus in the united states. it really does seem he used to say that a reporter is someone else that will sell his soul for a good story but it took turns out when the story might make barack obama look bad or make his presidency looks like a failure they are going to miss
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stories by definition simply for the inability to see the failure to be interested .... on the editorial page recovered the way that i wanted to be covered if i have anyone to blame but myself. we are part of who we are as the washington examiner but we also there is no reason that we should be the only ones to be ill-defined obvious trends in the labor statistics that we were practically the ones to write about people seem unaware of of the economy. 25 to